Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss the relationship between depression and heart disease.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
Gender impacts on health
Stress and its relationship with heart health
Adaption to stress
Positivity and gratitude
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: As I was preparing for this morning and thinking about it, something kept popping up in my head and maybe it’s because I’m getting sentimental with my old age and Valentine’s Day, but I was thinking about the role of our minds and our thoughts on the heart and figured, hey everybody talks about heart disease and how you should eat well and you should exercise and some of the things that are better for managing heart disease and preventing heart disease like the Mediterranean diet. I know we’ve talked about that before. How do we do something different today? I thought maybe we would connect the relationship with depression and heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Oh, I think that’s wonderful.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Is that okay?
Erin Brinker: Yes, I think that’s wonderful. Absolutely.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I was looking at the statistics and heart disease still remains the number one killer of folks in the United States, one out of every four deaths. It is very important to understand but one of the lesser talked about issues in heart disease is that folks with heart disease, heart patients, are three times as likely to be depressed at any given time than the general population. I found that really interesting and depression is also twice as common in women than men.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One of the things that kept coming into my mind and I always look at illness and all patient issues with a naturopathic lens, is how does our role with stress, how does our role with how we handle things, why is depression twice as likely in women than men? Is our existence that much more depressing than the male experience? What is that about?
Erin Brinker: I wonder if women are more likely to recognize their depression and ask for assistance than men are.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That definitely is part of it. There’s a lot of stigma around men feeling weak or showing “weakness” and anything mental can be considered weakness. You know, “tough it up, be a man,” that whole culture of having to try and stiff upper lip everything and hold it in actually impacts so many different components of our health. I’ve talked before about the role of cortisol and stress in our talks here in the morning, but stress impacts our release of cortisol which is a hormone and that has so many different ripples in the body, some of which can worsen heart disease if it’s already present or exacerbate incidents of heart disease. Cortisol, that’s your stress hormone, that’s ‘run from the bear in the woods’ kind of thing and what does it do? It increases your heart rate, it increases blood sugar levels, which subsequently can have increased damage on your vascular system. There’s a lot of ripples and a connection between stress and heart disease that isn’t often talked about or addressed.
Erin Brinker: I know that people who deal with chronic pain can become depressed because the presence of pain that’s with you all the time is depressing. I mean, I’ve known enough people who have had like back pain and they really fight depression. Is this a chicken and the egg thing? Does the depression come first and then the heart disease or the heart disease and then the depression, or does that really matter?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think it depends on the patient, Erin. There are so many different factors and I don’t think that we can say there’s just a one size fits all reason why folks have cardiovascular disease and it’s the number one killer. I would say that diet is definitely, at least in the United States, a major component, but what happens when folks are depressed? Depression in and of itself lends you to not want to exercise, not want to get out and talk to friends, and self-isolate, maybe grab more carb heavy foods, and things that will increase your weight and increase your blood pressure. It becomes this vicious cycle that just continues to feed itself. I don’t know that we can pinpoint any one thing but being depressed will … How motivated are you if you’re feeling down to go out and exercise? Funny thing is that’s exactly what you should do when you’re feeling down, like get out, get out of the house, don’t sit and mope and wallow in it. Go take a walk, go call a friend. I think there are many better adaptive coping mechanisms that we can do to our stressors but some of that just is around how do we adapt to stress. If you’re stressed do you instantly go to like anger or anxiety? Research has shown that the folks that when they’re stressed, they go to anger and anxiety, they have higher levels of heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Interesting.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: How we manage our stress is also important. Recognizing the things that get you stressed out … I can tell you mornings stress me out. Getting a six-year-old up and out the door …
Erin Brinker: Ah, yes.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Getting ready for school stresses me out and so what I’ve tried to do, what we’ve tried to do in the house, is do as many things ahead of time so get the clothes out, make breakfast the night before or have things that are quick and easy to grab for breakfast and get a routine set so that we can head off at the path at least some of the things that will lead to more stress. Some things are going to be in our control and then there are going to be things that are not in our control and we still have to manage how do we respond to that; do we find the silver lining or do we mope and wallow in it. Yesterday, I was having a morning yesterday like it sounds like you guys are having today and I ended up … I had just gotten back into town after a week away, breakfast wasn’t made, and so I found myself running out the door to try and go grab breakfast at a store for my son, leave the house without my purse.
Erin Brinker: I have had … That has happened to me and you just want to cry. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that happened to you.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, but like in that moment of like okay, I’ve got a hungry kid, he has to eat, I’ve got no purse, like what do we do? Okay, what do we have in the car? Then I realized that I had some emergency cash stowed away in a pocket, like ah, okay. But like you could, you could just sit and just give up and cry or you can just go into alright, how do we make the best out of it?
Erin Brinker: Right.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Go ahead.
Erin Brinker: One of the things about depression is that you do isolate yourself and the people around you may not know how to say … How to pull you out, to help you work through that stress. I had a pretty stressful day yesterday and Tobin makes me laugh when I’m stressed, even if it irritates me a little bit when he starts, by the time he’s done I’m really happy that he did it and so I think we need to be cognizant of what those around us are feeling and going through and we can help.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Absolutely. You know, there’s so much, and we’ve talked about this before, check in on your friends. Recently, I’ve had several friends lose parents and loved ones and you make check on them initially, but check on them in a week or two or a month later. Keep checking on your friends, keep making sure that they’re okay. Stop in, make them laugh, take them to a funny movie. Do those types of things that will help elevate and just be a good human being, I think at the end of the day.
Erin Brinker: Just start there.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Start there, be a good human. You wish you didn’t have to tell that to people but you know.
Erin Brinker: You know, we get … I know when I get busy, I get tunnel vision and it’s a good reminder to say hey, have you checked in on your friends lately? Have you sent a note and said I’m thinking about you? It’s so easy to do with a text or social media post or whatever, it’s so easy to reach out to people now.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is. I think, again, it’s just we all get tunnel vision, we all get caught up in our day to day and making a choice to stop and check in on your friends and also stop and check in on yourself. That’s one of the things that I think when people get really busy and caught up, it’s easy to ignore feelings and how you’re doing and your attitude, really impact your emotional state. We can sit and focus and dwell on the things that are missing in our life until the cows come home. We can think about all the things we don’t have, all of the stuff that we wish we had, all the things we would want to have, or we can focus on the blessings we do have right here and right now. That practice of positivity and of gratitude … Yesterday I was having kind of one of those days and I forced myself before I went to bed, I’m like okay, focus on the things that you’re thankful for. What are the good things in your life and leave those as the last thoughts you have before you go to sleep.
Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. An attitude of gratitude is a game changer, it really is.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is and it has been for me. I always joke, I come from a long line of worriers and anxious people, so it’s long bred in my family to be anxious and so I consciously have to say okay, you’re going a little too far on one side on this Jo, come on back, remember the things that you do have, remember the blessings, and be thankful for those because you’ve got it pretty good compared to a whole lot. Not to brag, but we have a house, we have a roof over our head, we’ve got food in the fridge, you know I’ve got family that loves me. That’s a really good place to start.
Erin Brinker: Indeed, and that will be our last word for today. Let people know how they can find you and follow you and learn more about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
Naturopathic physicians aim to treat the cause of disease. Stress is an easy target as an underlying cause, yet every stress and stress response is different. The impacts can ripple through our health by influencing all aspects of our mind and body. NDs help patients by teaching simple techniques to manage stress and how to identify it and avoid situations that will have negative impacts on our health and well-being. ND students find many of these useful for helping during school as well.
During this webinar you will:
-Learn about the body’s natural response to stress
-Identify ways to minimize school stress
-Hear about a patient case that was successfully managed with naturopathic medicine
To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.
About the Presenter
As a licensed naturopathic physician in private practice and a professor at Bastyr University for over two decades, Dr. Brad Lichtenstein has helped people embody the lives they want to live. His approach integrates naturopathic medicine, mind-body medicine and biofeedback, depth and somatic psychology, Eastern contemplative practices, yoga and movement, and end-of-life care. He serves as an Attending Physician for the Mind-Body Medicine and Chronic Pain Clinics at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health and has a strong clinical and teaching focus on developing psycho-emotional-spiritual health while dealing with chronic, life-challenging illnesses. His approach to care was profoundly shaped by his participation in a joint research study between the University of Washington and Bastyr University where he provided over 500 guided meditations to hospice patients.
Dr. Lichtenstein has written many publications, including articles in Unified Energetics, STEP Perspective, Caregiver Quarterly, Naturopathic Doctors News and Review (NDNR), and the Huffington Post, and has contributed a chapter on Mind-Body Medicine and Men’s Health in Integrative Men’s Health. He continues to present nationally on a wide array of topics including mindfulness and meditation as a healing modality, determining the appropriate mind-body technique for healing, and the use of breathwork, HRV and biofeedback to increase resiliency. He hosts monthly Death Cafes around the greater Seattle area, and has led countless Advanced Directives parties, encouraging people to become more comfortable with the inevitable reality that faces us all, and to discuss preparation for the future, should one no longer be able to make decisions for oneself.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins Pain Free and Strong Radio host, Dr. Tyna Moore (left) to discuss how to stay sane naturally during the busy holiday season.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
Naturopathic specialty associations
Announcer: This is ContactTalkRadio.com, consciousness in action, and you are taking action into your consciousness by tuning into Contact Talk Radio. And on tunein.com and UpSnap mobile. Contact Talk Radio. From the Rose City in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we are bringing you the latest updates in regenerative and stem cell medicine from around the world. It’s Pain Free & Strong Radio with Dr. Tyna Moore.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Welcome to Pain Free & Strong Radio. I am your host, Dr. Tyna Moore, and my guest today is Dr. JoAnn Yánez. She is the executive director at the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. I have had the pleasure of doing, we did a webinar in the past, you and I together, and I’m really excited to have you on the show. We’re going to talk about beating holiday stress naturally, and this is a perfect time, because the holidays are upon us, people are already dealing with the stress of it, and we’re walking into Christmas, and so this seems like a perfect time to address some of these issues. Do you want me, is it okay if I call you JoAnn for the show?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Oh, absolutely.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Okay, great.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: I answer to everything, even, “Hey, you!”
Dr. Tyna Moore: That’s because you’re a mom.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Very true.
Dr. Tyna Moore: And a wife, that’s how it goes. So, JoAnn, go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got here.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Sure thing. I’m currently serving as the executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, and for those of you who don’t know, it’s a big mouthful, we represent the seven accredited schools across North America, and really all of the academic efforts, the joint recruitment efforts, anything that all of the colleges do together. Right now, we’re working on a vaccine paper on the education regarding immunizations for naturopathic graduates. Our association covers the gamut of anything that the ND schools do all together. But you asked me about my journey. I’m trained as a naturopathic doctor. I studied at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine back in the stone age, back when there were actually three ND schools in the US at the time. Naturopathic medicine for me was a calling. I had always wanted to be a doctor, and really saw myself utilizing nutrition, psychology or psychiatry at the time is what I knew of it, and physical medicine, and I didn’t know that there was a profession like this out there that used all of those things and wrapped it up into a beautiful package for patients. And so, it took me a little bit of time, this was pre-internet days, to find out about naturopathic medicine. It was actually totally by accident, talking to a chiropractor, and he mentioned, “Hey, it sounds like what you want to do is to be a naturopathic doctor,” and I said, “A naturo-what?” And so that’s how I found naturopathic medicine. Long story short, I studied, I graduated, I taught for a while, I worked in accreditation, and then got involved in licensure and working on public affairs and public health, and that led me to a public health master’s and that led me to the AANMC. So that’s kind of me in a quick nutshell.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Wow. So, you are a champion for naturopathic medicine, in a nutshell.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Sometimes. (laughs)
Dr. Tyna Moore: Sometimes. (laughs)
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Sometimes.
Dr. Tyna Moore: You’re just herding the cats, right?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: You know, I have been told that that was my title, that’s kind of my unofficial job title is ‘cat herder in chief’.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Awesome. Well, it’s a pleasure to have you here today because I think that you bring a unique perspective to things. You know, it’s important I think in any profession that we have different types of people in the trenches, in different trenches. So, some of us are going at it clinically, some of us are, I’m trying to bring more of an awareness clinically and online. You’re working, and I don’t want to say behind the scenes, I would say at the forefront, of keeping, it’s super important that our schools, that they’re known. I know that they’re all unique, they all sort of have their own thing. But really, the one thing that I try to bring to this profession is … What’s the word I’m looking for? I really just want to bring, I want to keep everybody in the fold. I find that when I just was recently at the AANP, and I know you were there, as well, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians annual conference in Arizona, it was interesting to see how separated and distinct it felt to me. I didn’t feel, and that’s something that I this year really want to help change, is that there just seemed to be this, everybody was sort of in their own camp, so to speak. And I can’t really put my finger on it, it was more of a feeling that I had than anything specific that people said. And I don’t want to use the word homogeneous, but I really think that keeping everybody in the loop, keeping everybody under the same umbrella, and there being an understanding or some kind of resource out there that lets the students and the practitioners out in the field, keeping us all together, because I remember a time maybe five, ten years ago, when I would show up to the AANP and it felt very cohesive, and I guess that’s the word I’m looking for. The elders knew the students, the students knew the elders, everyone knew who each other was. And I didn’t feel that this time around. And maybe it’s just because it was such a big event and we have so many new faces in the profession, but that sort of cohesiveness is what I’m ultimately after.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well, I know from the AANMC’s perspective, a few years ago, we worked on the clinical competency document, which was basically like this blueprint or framework for what are the expectations for students when they get out of naturopathic school. And it was the unifying document, and you know, we went back and forth, and like you said, the schools have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, but really the unifying factor are our core principles. And at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that when it comes down to the basics of naturopathic medicine, we agree on the principles. We agree on docere, or to teach our patients. We agree on prevention. We agree on the healing power of the body and the healing power of nature and treating an individual. Those are all unifying, whether you’re doing pain medicine or pediatrics. I think that those are those unifying principles that bring us all together, and that’s why it was so core to our competency document and all of the other competencies that we’re going to be putting together in the future, really just as a baseline expectation of what we expect our docs to know, and more so to communicate. You know, I think one of the things that I’ve found over the years is there are so many misperceptions about what naturopathic doctors are, what we do, what we believe, what we don’t believe. I just recently had an eye doctor appointment and he said, “Oh, do you believe in that naturopathic stuff?” And I was thinking, it’s not a religion, you know, it’s not a religion, it is based in evidence, it’s based in the body’s ability to heal itself if we give it the tools to do so. And so, I think that at the end of the day, those are the types of things that drive me, that help me be so passionate to advocate for what we do, what we teach, and to dispel some of those misperceptions. In the early days when I first started lobbying in New York for licensure back in, gosh, 2003, I would literally have legislators say, “You know, I was expecting you to show up, you know, kind of with some beads on and some crystals-“
Dr. Tyna Moore: Wow.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well, you know, and I said, “No, that’s just on Saturdays.” I would make a joke out of it, but I think there was this misperception that we couldn’t present ourselves professionally. I think that’s what they were really saying is, you know, I was expecting you to not come to this meeting in a professional manner. And not that any of those things aren’t professional per se, but when you’re in a business meeting, there are certain expectations, especially if you’re on Capitol Hill or at your state capital. So really what we started doing was breaking down those barriers and breaking down the misperceptions and the misconceptions. And so, a lot of what we’ve been doing at the AANMC with some of our documents is helping to educate the public, to educate insurers, to educate state licensing efforts on what’s taught at the schools, what really is taught, and not leave it up to some of the naysayers to speak for us. And so that’s really what our emphasis has been with the AANMC over the last couple years.
Dr. Tyna Moore: I love that. I think it’s really important. I hear that all the time from people, too. Patients will come in and say, “Well you don’t look like a naturopathic physician,” and I’m thinking, “What exactly are we supposed to look like?” You know? And I know that the public has an impression of us that might not fit exact, but more and more I’m seeing, and I think that the old guard, they were like the well-dressed hippies, and they honored the principles of naturopathy really well and they honored the principles of taking … it is, it’s kind of a, if you want to call it, hippie mindset, but I don’t think hippies have to be dressed up with peace symbols around their necks and headbands on. Any of us can be protectors of the environment. Any of us can be nurturers of the vis medicatrix naturae, which is the healing power of nature, and I think that that idea, that concept, can really permeate a lot of different professions, as well. And I’m even seeing that in environmental capitalism, just these, I listen to different startup companies talk about their core principles, and I’m thinking, “This sounds like our tenets of naturopathy.” You know, it just-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yeah, well, you know, it’s so funny because at the end of the day, I think when I’m speaking to prospective students, one thing I love so much about prospective students that we see, as well as the career itself, is the diversity. You can be Dr. Tyna Moore and make naturopathic medicine look exactly like you want it to look. I can be Dr. JoAnn Yánez and make my naturopathic medical practice, at least when I had one, look exactly like I want it to look. And that’s the beauty that I think naturopathic medicine offers that maybe some other professions don’t quite offer to that same extent, is that ability to personalize the medicine, to take those tenets and what they mean to you, how you create your dream practice and your dream experience for your patients that are drawn to see you. And that’s the beauty of the medicine. That is really, I think, our strength and what so many folks, especially now, are expecting out of their careers, they really want that work-life balance, they want that flexibility, they want the ability to have something that they wake up every day and adore. And I’ve seen Facebook discussions and chats with naturopathic doctors and if you woke up tomorrow and you won the Powerball, would you still see patients, and astoundingly, you know, for folks who this was a good career fit for them, I was shocked to see how many people were like, “Yeah, you know, maybe I would scale it back, I wouldn’t work as hard, but patients drive me. I wake up in the morning and it fills my heart. It fills my soul.” And how many professions can really say that? So, I think that is something that is so powerful. Sure, maybe we wouldn’t work a 60-hour workweek if we won the Powerball, but so many people still wake up every day and say, “You know, no. I would still want to do this.” I don’t know how many professions you can point to where people would say that.
Dr. Tyna Moore: I agree. I agree. I thought that was really interesting, too, when I saw that feed. So many people said they would stay in the game for sure, which I thought was great, so. Well, let’s dive into our topic, which is-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Absolutely.
Dr. Tyna Moore: … this is a perfect segue way. So, we’re going to talk about beating holiday stress naturally, and I’m going to let you take it from here, because I know that the holidays for me hold a lot of different emotions, not all of them great, and as I get older and as families blend, having been in blended families, I can see how much stress everything brings to the table. So, what does beating holiday stress look like to you?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Wow. You know, it’s kind of a loaded question, and I think you already started going there. You know, for a lot of people, they expect the holidays, and regardless of whatever your religious or not-religious bent is, most of us get wrapped up into holiday parties and events with family and things of that sort just by the social nature of life. So even if you’re not necessarily a religious person for whatever persuasion, we all have holiday things that we get roped into. And so I think for me, when I’m thinking about holiday stress, it’s often about all of the pressures that we put on ourselves to make all of the events, to be perfect, to set the perfect table, to have the perfect present, to do all of those things that are on self-imposed to-do lists, none of which the world will stop tomorrow because they don’t happen, but all of these big things that we put in our brain that we say, “Oh, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that, and this is what the holidays mean,” and putting all of that stress on ourselves. So, I think at the end of the day for me, it’s how do we make this time of year manageable and break it down. What are the essentials? What has to get done? What will life go on without it being done? And I think those are the types of areas where I first see friends and family who are freaking out and planning months and months and months in advance for holiday gifts and spending more money than they have and all of the things that we kind of get caught up on because it’s “the holidays.” I don’t know what your thoughts are on that.
Dr. Tyna Moore: I think the spending more money than they have thing is insane to me, and it goes year by year and you can see just with the political climate and where things are at, how people’s spending habits change, and they track all this and I listen to these reports and I just think, “Wow, people are chasing a dopamine hit.” There’s a dopamine hit to buying and then there’s a dopamine hit to giving and there’s a dopamine hit to receiving, and I just think that sometimes holidays become such a huge production and so unnecessarily so. I think that being with your family or loved ones or even choosing to be alone if you want to, not necessarily the worst thing in the world. I’ve spent a few holidays alone. I generally spend holidays with my parents. I’ve never been a big holiday goer. In fact, going to big events stresses me out, so I avoid it. I’m a little bit of an introvert, so I avoid it. And then just, you know, entering into relationships and then one family has their traditions and then the other family may have theirs, and how do you balance that all out. All of that can be just so overwhelming, and-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well and-
Dr. Tyna Moore: Oh, go ahead.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Oh, go ahead. No, and I think for some people too, just touching on what you said, holidays also bring up loss. They bring up the people who aren’t with us anymore, and there’s that component of, especially as folks age and they think about large family gatherings that are no longer large and the people who are no longer there or traditions that aren’t kept because the placeholder or the fire-keeper of that tradition passed away. I think those, again, it’s setting up the expectation and whenever, you know, I try to live life in the moment and again, life is practice, life is not perfect, but really, in being in that moment, accepting what life is right now. Maybe it isn’t the holidays of your childhood. Maybe it isn’t the holidays of last year, but how do we enjoy the holidays of now? And like you said, there could be a really beautiful holiday that you spend alone watching Netflix. Curled up on your couch and sipping some hot cocoa and watching Netflix could’ve been the best holiday that you ever had.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yes.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: You know, and so I think that being present in that moment, listening to yourself, following those naturopathic tenets of paying attention to the moment, being in that moment, addressing who you are at that time and what you need. I think for me, the basics are always stress, sleep, and nutrition. And how do we manage all of those things. And so, with stress, I don’t know about your techniques, but a lot of times, what I see with folks is when they start to get overwhelmed, all of our mechanisms that we use, or hopefully are using, to manage our stressors and to keep ourselves healthy, often are the first ones to go out the window. Yesterday, I’m rehabbing an injury right now and I had a meeting with a trainer and he asked me about self-care, and I had a chuckle, because I’m like, “Here’s the naturopathic doctor and she’s being asked about self-care,” and he said, “Well, do you know anything about mindfulness meditation?” And I’m like, “I may have given a lecture or two on it,” you know I said kind of offhand, but it’s a reminder that we have to practice what we preach. And so especially during times of stress, making, I like to call it a mindfulness minute. I think a lot of times people get overwhelmed, especially during the holidays, when our to-do lists are giant, by thinking, “Oh, well mindfulness, that’s one more thing I have to add on to the plate.” And if you break it down into little chunks, and however it is manageable for you, you know, I call it the mindfulness minute. If you can call it a minute, it doesn’t seem all that overwhelming, and sometimes that’s all it takes to get yourself centered and grounded again. If you’ve got that holiday party or you’re about to walk into a roomful of relatives where maybe you don’t agree politically, all you need to do is take a minute, center yourself, and remind yourself, “Hey, we’re here to love each other. We’re here to join together as a family. We’re not here to talk about politics or get riled up,” and as long as you get yourself into that mindset of enjoying the moment, enjoying the blessings of what you have and not thinking about those negatives. And if you start to kind of get taken there, go back and get mindful again. Get back into the focus of what you’re there to do, what you’re there to enjoy with each other. And I think those are the types of things that help people get through some of those holiday tensions that can creep in.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Right, and I think that unfortunately one of the first things people do in those situations, and I’m guilty of this, is you reach for a glass of wine or you reach for an alcoholic beverage at the event, and people start to lose their ability to be mindful after alcohol. So, walking in stabilized, I think is a great concept. What I usually do is, and I love that mindful minute, because I don’t think meditation, I’m not very good at meditating. I’m not good at sitting down for 10, 20 minutes. I am good at calming my mind for minute or two, though, and letting the process just sort of wash through me instead of grabbing that emotion and rolling into it at full bore, physically and emotionally. I could sort of let it pass me like a car passing on the street or maybe water beading over the window, just breathing through it, and being mindful. Joan Rosenberg, she’s a psychologist, and she talks about how bad feelings will only last about 90 seconds, and when you have a bad feeling, what comes with it is a physical response, right, and so you’re physically going through that with the cortisol elevation and all that, and she just talks about if you can get through that 90-second wave, you’re going to be fine. So just knowing it’s 90 seconds long, so a little bit more than a minute, and letting that, but even if you can do it for 60 seconds, just box breathing is a great idea. I usually get a good workout in before I go to the event. I usually have some food in me walking in. I don’t go in hungry ever, because next piece of what you’re going to talk about is nutrition, so I’ll have a protein shake after my workout or I’ll have some protein or I’ll have something high fat that’s satiating and gets my neurotransmitters happy, maybe some dark chocolate, so when I walk in, I don’t derail on the alcohol and I don’t derail on the food, because that’s what leads to a lot of people’s mental emotional imbalances, too, is they start, they … for some reason, like October 31st hits with the chocolate or the candy for Halloween, and it’s like all hell breaks loose for the next four months.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: I know.
Dr. Tyna Moore: People just go off. I’m like, “What are you doing? You can’t derail, don’t derail now. Maybe derail for a day at Christmas, but keep yourself steady until then.”
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yeah, you know, it’s really funny, and I think one of the things that I always talk to folks about, and I try and practice myself, is really getting to know yourself. And I think there’s something that’s been lost in the education system as well as in just general being and how to be a grownup. I wish they had a class in college on how to adult, how to be a grownup. One of the first things that I would put in a class like that would be get to know your body and what makes you feel good, what makes you not feel good, and you know, if that’s managing your stress through mindfulness, getting enough sleep, eating the right things that make you feel good. Because as I’m sure you’ve seen with the patients that you see, so many folks walk through this life with not a lot of awareness on the interactions between their food, their environment, and their health. And so, and then you throw on the holidays on top of that and Christmas cookies at every turn, Halloween candy and candy corns and all of that stuff, and it does, it throws people off the rails. You’ll see folks getting more colds and flus around that time. It lowers our immunity. So, there are so many different things that I think, you’re not going to be able to manage and to be centered, to manage that cortisol shift if somebody mentions something that kind of triggers you, you’re not going to be able to manage that so well if you’re teetering on the edge of hangry. So, I love your idea, and I’ve always heard this, too, about going to parties not hungry, really because then you’re tempted to eat a whole bunch of stuff that you probably wouldn’t be eating under normal circumstances.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yes, and don’t go thirsty. People get themselves dehydrated, especially in the winter as everyone’s cranking the heat in their house, they’re slowly dehydrating their bodies and they’ll show up, I’m super guilty of this, I’ll show up and just put down a glass of wine, not because I’m trying to drink fast the alcohol, it’s because I’m thirsty. And especially if you’re going to do some exercise or movement prior to the event to calm your nerves, you’re going to find yourself thirsty. So, a great tip there that I have, that I use, is, and I use this year-round, and when I forget to use it is when I end up not feeling well. If you’re going to have alcohol, pace that with a glass of water or a bottle of water or like a soda water with lime. So, every other is, so you really slow down your alcohol intake, because I think that’s where people start to get hung up, and the effects of that, alcohol’s a poison, right, so the effects of it last for days longer. So, if you’re doing the holiday circuit, as I call it, especially the two weeks before Christmas, you’re sort of, it’s alcohol, alcohol, alcohol. It’s often a lot more alcohol than most people are used to, and so pacing yourself on that, walking in prepared, not hungry and not thirsty. And that’ll help a ton, I think, too, just keeping people in line. And that’ll allow for that mindfulness to take place.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yeah. Well and also, if you think of, you know, you talked about alcohol is a poison, but it also converts very readily into and raises your blood sugar, and so I think the component that folks don’t always realize about alcohol is the blood sugar component and the highs and the lows that happen with the crash, especially if you’re drinking eggnogs and super sugary types of drinks that also have alcohol in them, and what that does to your cortisol balance as well as your insulin and your blood sugar regulation, and then subsequently your immune response. And then you’ll see that week around Christmas, everybody’s nose is running and they’re getting sick and their throats are sore and it’s a combination. I’ve always known with myself, I can deal with stress or I can deal with a little bit less sleep or I can deal with not eating well. I can’t do all three together or otherwise I get sick.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Amen. That’s such a true statement. You’ve got to pick your, yeah, you start doubling and tripling up on lifestyle stuff, and … I have autoimmune disease and I have a pretty wonky immune system, and I’ll go from a sniffle to pneumonia, full blown, pretty quickly, and even with as healthy as I have been in the last few years. It always amazes me, but when I look back, it’s like, okay, I was burning the candle at both ends and then I added a few more wicks and lit those on fire, and I derailed everything. I compromised my sleep, I compromised my alcohol intake, because I’m pretty strict about what I will allow myself alcohol wise, because it is a poison. I do like to enjoy a glass of whiskey a couple times a week, I think that there’s a balance there, but I don’t think that the way that people drink casually, especially in our age group, I see a lot of people becoming really good functional alcoholics, and it’s a little bit concerning, even for high-level professionals and other colleagues that are in the medical profession. They’ll drink three to five alcoholic beverages a night on the regular, and that’s just how they’ve kind of aged into their 40s, and they’re very functional for it, their bodies learned how to deal with that, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not totally derailing things. Then they ramp it up during the holidays. And I’m not coming down on anyone, I’ve had my half bottle of wine a night decade myself-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Decade.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Getting through school and starting a practice, I know how that goes, but it’s really easy to let that creep up on you. So anyway, compromising those main lifestyles, what do we want to call them, tenets almost. Your sleep is sacred. You’re-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: It’s the foundation.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yeah, your nutrition is critical. Especially if you start throwing a lot of sugar in it. Now and for the audience, alcohol turns into sugar in the body, and sugar, I was taught in naturopathic school if somebody tends towards alcohol, they’re also probably a sugar addict, and vice versa. So, if you’re cutting one, I always encourage people to cut both at the same time. I’m not saying do that during the holidays, but just so people know, especially come January first when people want to clean up their diet a bit, if they want to cut alcohol out for a month, I think that’s always a great idea in January, but remember to cut your sugar, too, because it’s one and the same, really, in how your body handles it. In a nutshell.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well and you know, the January stuff always kind of makes me chuckle. I know many people have practices and their practices get busier in January because folks are now on the resolution bandwagon, but I’ve always been a proponent that if you’re going to make a change, don’t wait. If you know something is good for you, let’s start today. What’s tomorrow? I’m always, it’s like, “Well, oh, I have this great idea. Let’s do it next month.” That’s just never resonated with me personally, and I gave up the whole resolutions thing eons ago. People sometimes kind of say, “Oh, you’re not making any resolutions?” And I said, “No, I make them every day. You know, if I find that I’m doing something that isn’t serving me any longer, I’m not going to wait to some arbitrary day on a calendar to start implementing it. I’m going to implement it now.”
Dr. Tyna Moore: Absolutely. Because in my head, I train, I strength train, and it’s a sport, in my head, and I’m an athlete in this sport, and that’s not something I just start in January or get more serious about in January. I’m serious about it all the time, because I have to be, because it’s what keeps my autoimmune disease at bay. It’s what keeps me healthy, so I don’t ever look at it as like a, “Oh, I’ve got to start this new hard battle. I’ve got to overcome this hill of obstacle.” I look it at as like, “Sweet, this is my treatment plan. This is the work I do.” You know? The reason I eat the way I do is because that’s part of my treatment plan. That’s what keeps me steady. The reason I don’t compromise my sleep year-round is because that’s part of it and all hell breaks loose if you start to compromise, for me, any of those, but certainly all three of those. So, what do you tell people who, maybe they’re at ground zero. They don’t feel well, they feel sick, they’ve maybe got some weight to lose, they’re frustrated. This all sounds super overwhelming to them, and we look at it as just pieces of the puzzle, but they’re looking at it as this insurmountable chore. What do you tell people to get started?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Take one bite at a time. Take one step at a time. Don’t look at, you know, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Don’t look at the big picture and get yourself overwhelmed, and I think the other thing, Tyna, is every patient is different. I’ve seen folks where they need to hit rock bottom in order to be motivated enough to actually make changes that will last and will be those long-term, lifelong changes, and then other folks are able to have the motivation to be able to do that incrementally. I think you have to meet people where they’re at it, and if you’ve got somebody who is, they’ve had a massive heart attack or they’ve had a big health scare and they are ready to make those types of changes, they may be willing to do everything all at once. For other folks, they may, and they may want to do everything all at once, they say, “I’m terrified I’m going to die tomorrow, you know, tell me everything I need to do and let’s do it right now,” versus other folks who will say, “You know what, I can only take so much on my plate. I’m willing to focus right now on nutrition. Don’t give me any exercise. I’m not there yet.” I think there are doctors and there are practitioners for every one of those types of patients. So, I think meeting people where they’re at and recognizing, okay, you’re willing to work on nutrition. Let’s start there. Let’s get that under control. Maybe you need to learn how to cook and that’s the biggest obstacle right now, because all you’re doing is eating fast food because you don’t know how to prepare vegetables or food in a way that you’ll like to eat it. So maybe we start there. Let’s get you in some cooking classes, let’s teach you how to food shop and make that change, get it to stick, and then make the next change, get that one to stick, and keep knocking them off. So, for a lot of folks, that is a more lasting way to get the changes to actually stick.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Absolutely. And just letting people know that they’re more powerful than they think. The best way to stop feeling addicted to food is to stop eating that food. Our food supply is, especially the processed foods, they’re designed to keep you wanting more, and the food manufacturers have got this dialed. It’s not about taking away or saying you can never eat that again, it’s about changing things up. I think that adding in copious vegetables or leafy greens or adequate protein is a wonderful way to fill up the tummy, and then you’re not so inclined to want the sweets, and doing the right things to give your neurotransmitters the hit you’re looking for, so instead of getting it from food, you might be getting it from exercise. Getting adequate sleep so that your neurotransmitters aren’t so hungry, so that you’re not looking for the next hit. Because that’s really what we’re doing. We’re all dopamine addicts, all of us are. We get it from different places. Some people get that from shopping, which is a huge stressor during the holidays that we talked about before. I think we really underestimate that, especially with online. You can actually go shopping online and put all the things you want in your cart and then close your cart out or forget about it and nothing gets ordered, and you still get the same dopamine hit, because you shopped. So just realizing that we’re chasing the dopamine dragon pretty much at all times, and giving yourself a chance to find healthful ways to meet that need versus gorging on sugar, alcohol, keeping yourself up all night, which is just going to make things worse, that kind of thing. So, what about movement? Movement’s my favorite topic. What do you suggest people do, and how did you counsel your patients around this?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: You know, it really is, and it’s one of the aspects that drove me to naturopathic medicine, because we recognize how important and how vital movement is, regardless of whether, you know, you don’t have to be an athlete like at the level that you take it. For basics, a very good friend of mine, our realtor that got our house, just was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and I was saying, “Hey, just start baby steps. Just start walking,” and I think for folks who get intimidated by the gym, scared by, “Oh, it’s just overwhelming,” or “Oh, I don’t know how to do it,” or “Oh, I don’t have money for a gym or a trainer,” or all that kind of stuff, just get out for a walk if you can. If you’ve got animals, dogs are fabulous, and I know you love dogs. They’ve found that animal owners or dog owners are way more physically active than folks who don’t own animals. So, reconnect with nature if you can, weather permitting. I know we’re in winter now. If you have a dog or consider getting a dog, they will keep you more active. There are some basic ways that you can make exercise a part of your life, or movement a part of your life without making it feel like it’s exercise. If you are a gardener, you like to tend to plants, that’s a way, maybe not in the middle of December in a snowstorm, but that’s a way that you can also connect with movement. So, I think people can get experimental about it. What works for you, and again, make it fit into your life and make it enrich your life. Exercise shouldn’t be one of those things that folks dread having to do. I see posts from people and they’ll be talking, “Oh, I’ve got to go and do this.” Life’s too short to not have fun with it. Get something movement-wise that you enjoy. In med school, I always tell this story, and this is actually how I got my injury, I took up salsa dancing, and for me, I was originally a gym kind of person, but then med school happened and the stressors of trying to get into a gym were just hard for me to do, because I also missed the social interaction, so for me, I started taking salsa classes. I started social dancing, and that was the release, the stress release for me, that was fun, and it was lighthearted, and it was a way to blow off steam from being in school all day long, and I think that you find what works for you. I’ll tell you, I would have to bring changes of clothes because I would sweat that much.
Dr. Tyna Moore: That’s awesome, and it sounds like it was super fun, which-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yes.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Oh, fun. People underrate fun. I have a rule in my house that I don’t watch, especially after I went through a divorce and things were pretty heavy there for a while years back, no heavy movies allowed. Only funny things. Only things that would make you laugh. I think fun is underappreciated, fun exercise is undervalued. You don’t have to kill yourself. You don’t even have to do more than get a little bit of a damp sweat, just a little clamminess, if you will. Just-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well and you know, I’ve got this 5-year-old kid and it’s amazing what, I’ll take a beach ball in our living room and we’ll just bat that beach ball around and after running after it a few times, you are a little bit on that clammy side. Another one of my favorites is I’ll grab hula hoops, and we’ll start hula hooping. The other day, I was hula hooping with my little kid and I had my arms up, and like, “Wow, I’m feeling this in my delts, I’m like actually, you know, I’m feeling this in my muscles.” So, I think there are ways that we can incorporate movement, like you said, in that fun manner where it isn’t just this dreaded, “Oh, I’m going to go on the treadmill for a half an hour and dread every second of it while I’m doing it.” Incorporate movement into your day, make it fun. I work from home, and a lot of times people say, “Oh, what do you do?” I say, “Well, I schedule conference calls for myself personally, I try to anyway, when I can, during a time of day when that cortisol dip is dropping, so like at that two to three pm time where I know I’m going to be a little kind of more sluggish, I’ll schedule a conference call where I know that I can likely walk around. I’ll get on my headset and I’ll move, and I’ll move for most of that call.”
Dr. Tyna Moore: Brilliant.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Or if I’m sitting at my desk, I can do it right now while we’re talking, I’ll do leg extensions, and I’ll just start flexing and extending my legs to get moving. So, I think a lot of times people, like I said earlier, they get intimidated by the big workout. “Oh, I’ve got to get dressed, I have to go to the gym, I’ve got to shower afterwards,” and it becomes this big production that it’s very easy for people to make excuses not to do. Well, if you make it not-a-production, if you make it, “Hey, do 50 leg extensions while you’re sitting on the phone,” that becomes a lot more palatable. You didn’t have to put on tennis shoes, you didn’t have to drive to a gym or do anything like that. It’s easy. So that’s what I would tell folks, is make it easy, make it part of your day, and it’ll be more likely to stick.
Dr. Tyna Moore: And do what is fun for you, I think it was Robb Wolf who said it, and others have said it, “The best form of exercise is that which the patient will do or the person will do.” I am a big fan of lifting heavy for specific hormonal reasons, and I think that it’s a-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Sure.
Dr. Tyna Moore: … really wonderful treatment and it’s sort of a non-negotiable in my world, only in that it really does such a remarkable job of keeping insulin resistance at bay and kind of the root causes of a lot of illness, but there’s something really fun about putting on a Tae Bo video that you have from the 90s or, I’m not kidding, my friend Jane Barlow, she does step aerobics and she’s just recently started broadcasting it live on her Facebook. On Facebook live on Fridays, she teaches a class, and I was like, “Are you kidding me? Step aerobics?” And she was like, “No, it’s great,” and I said, “My mom used to make me take a step aerobics class every quarter in college or she would not sign off on my student loan check.” So the deal was, even though I was super unhealthy, and my audience knows this, I chain smoked, I was not a healthy person, I was a little skinny punk rock girl, and I didn’t take really great care of myself, and I didn’t eat very much or very well, but I did that darn step aerobics twice a week, every week, and it was so fun, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, Jane. I want to live broadcast your Facebook live, I want to do that on Fridays. That sounds like a blast.” So, whatever will get you moving, and she swears step aerobics is making a comeback, and I believe it. I think that a lot of, the Jane Fonda videos, there’s a lot of valid worth in there. So anyway, whatever gets you moving, do it. If you-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Whatever gets you moving, exactly.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Now this is different than changing body composition. If you want to change body composition, that’s a different subject, but really just to keep yourself stress free, to keep yourself happy, to keep that dopamine sparked and those other good neurotransmitters, just move. Hula hoop, do a couple push-ups, pull-ups. Just throw it into your day. It doesn’t have to be your main workout. It’s better to move a little bit all the time than it is to go work out hard two or three times a week only.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yes.
Dr. Tyna Moore: And then there’s little under the chair cycling things that you can cycle your feet with, but I like what you do, I do the same thing. I call it keep your monkey feet, like keep your feet active so that they could grab things if you need them to, so that you are able to have healthy calves and healthy blood return to the heart and you don’t get those blown out varicose veins. You know, just keeping things moving.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yes. Very important.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yeah. For sure. So, we’ve got just a few minutes left. What else do you think is critical that you want to share with the audience on keeping your stress managed during the holidays?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Happiness.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yeah. For sure.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: You know, I think, we’ve talked about all of the above. We’ve kind of talked about stress and sleep and nutrition and movement, but I think at the end of the day, it’s happiness. It’s do what fills your heart, do what fills your cup. Make sure that there’s something that is filling you up at the end of that day. Whether that’s family, whether that is rolling around on the floor with your dogs or calling up a loved one, whatever it is that brings you that sense of fulfillment. There’s literature on happiness and scholarly research, and at the end of the day, a lot of times what they find is the happiest folks are the people who are giving, and that happiness is really related to giving. I think, especially in this time of year with the holidays, people forget the importance of giving. They think about me, me, me, what I want or what I’m doing, but really, what is it that we get when we help others, and what is that true spirit, if you are a religious person, of the holidays? It’s loving, it’s being surrounded by love and the things that fill our hearts. So that’s where I always go. Oftentimes, people focus on the negative or what they don’t have and they don’t recognize or have that appreciation for the things that they do. Especially those of us who have lost loved ones, you can kind of get caught up and wrapped up in that sense of loss and, “Oh, you know, this is my first holiday without my husband,” or “This is my first whatever without my mom,” and really kind of get sucked into that feeling of loss, rather than appreciating what it is you do have. Recently, there was a big terrorist attack that happened in a city that I had visited, and I was kind of wallowing in it for a little bit and saying, “Wow, I was in that exact spot just one year ago where that terrorist act happened,” and my husband looked at me and he said, “You’re still here, right?” I said, “Yup,” and he said, “Well, be thankful for that. Don’t wallow in the experience of what could’ve been or where you could’ve been. Be where you are, be thankful for what you do have.” So I think at the end of the day, we can think about all of the things that didn’t go well, the party that didn’t happen exactly the way we planned it or the gifts that didn’t happen exactly the way we wanted it to or any X number of fill in the blank things that you could be dissatisfied with, but at the end of the day, if you can find those things that are good. There’s a journaling exercise that I used to do, and every once in a while, I’ll pull it out when I feel I’m needing it, and it’s at the end of the day, write down three things you’re thankful for.
Dr. Tyna Moore: That’s great. I think that’s, yeah, gratitude. Just having-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: And it’s gratitude, yes.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yeah, gratitude grounds you, and I didn’t practice it as often as I should’ve when I was younger. I was almost averse to it when it was propositioned to me, I was like, “What are you talking about?” But yeah, even if it’s just mental, going to bed, sometimes it’s the same three things over and over again in my head, but to remind myself that they’re there.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Why were you averse to it?
Dr. Tyna Moore: I don’t know. I just was sort of so down in my grind at a certain point. My mentor was dying, Dr. Rick Marinelli, and I was just lost, and I felt like I was swimming through shark infested waters and they were black and nobody could see me, and so I was like, “What do you mean, practice gratitude? It can’t be that easy.” Nobody wants to hear there are simple solutions. They are not always easy, but they are simple, and it was one of those. It’s like when you tell somebody to eat better and exercise and they’re like, “It can’t be that simple.” You know? But yeah, I think it had a profound effect on me. So, what about, do you have any suggestions for people as far as boosting their mood? I always tell people to go volunteer or go do some act of service.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yeah, and there are so many opportunities during the holidays to do that, whether it’s food kitchens or gathering gifts for kids. One of the things that I do with my son, and I’m trying as best as I can to implore and impart on him some values, you know, and “Hey, you’re pretty lucky, you’ve got a clean bed to sleep in every night and you’ve got a mom and a dad who love you and you’ve got shelter over your head and food in your tummy and there are lots of people that don’t have that,” and I think like you said, that grounding, sometimes when we go and we help, it helps us realize that gratitude. I’ll never forget my first trip abroad. I was 22, it was my first year in med school, and I went visit family of mine in Cuba, and I was there and here I am, this kid who’s never been out of the country, and I go to turn on the water in the bathroom to wash my hands, because that’s what you do after you go to the bathroom, and guess what happened? The water didn’t come on. I go running out to my uncle, and I’m like, “What happened to the water?” And he said, in a matter-of-fact way, “Sometimes we have water, and sometimes we don’t.” I literally stood there in the living room kind of with this face of shock, like, “What do you mean you don’t have running water?”
Dr. Tyna Moore: “What have you gotten me into?”
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: “What do you mean you don’t always have running water?” And I will tell you, at the end of that trip when I came back home and I had a one night layover in North Carolina and I’m driving to whatever hotel I was staying at, and I saw the American flag flying and I got tears in my eyes, because for the first time, I recognized what freedom meant, and I recognized the gifts that we have, and it gave me this sense of gratitude, that this 22-year-old little snot-nosed kid had no idea about how other people lived in the world on a daily basis, and how much I took our freedoms, our running water, our electricity, things like that, for granted. I had no idea. So, I think volunteering, getting in touch with things that make you grateful, is a really vital component to being a human being.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Right, and also in that, you start to learn how to roll with the punches a little bit. Instead of each thing being such a huge ordeal, it’s like, “Meh, so I don’t have running water right now,” or whatever, it’s like, “I still have my family around me,” or I still have this or I still, there’s so many wonderful things that we do have, and just health, health is wealth. Just being healthy.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Well, and I will tell you, I still think back to those times, and many of family members I visited back then are now deceased and I think of, okay, yeah, we may not have always had running water, but I had some of the fondest memories of my life during those trips.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yes, exactly. You have wonderful memories, and the water’s sort of irrelevant. It’s a marker, but, you know, and something I want to add, and then I want to move forward and ask you to share with the audience how they can find you and what’s going on with you, I think crafting is an awesome thing to do during the holidays. It’s always been a huge stress reliever for me, whether it’s you buying some inexpensive essential oils and making blends up for people, or figuring out how to make a lip balm or a lotion with inexpensive ingredients, things that you can do with your kids. Crafting is excellent. It raises your oxytocin, it raises your dopamine, the scents of the things that you’re making, the textures, all of those are really nice and happy to the brain and to the mood. Huge stress reducer, and it’s a very, I can’t tell you, I have spent some very poor Christmases where I had no money and I didn’t know what to do. One year, I made those cookie jars, except it was all gluten free, and I was able to make, I think like 25 jars for very little money, and people loved them. They ask me every year, “Where’s my cookie jars?” One year, I made lip balm. All of these things are super fun things to do to bring even yourself, it’s very fun to do with a partner, that’s how you make memories, and as you meld and merge memories with people you love, you form stronger bonds with them, so those will be the events you remember versus just buying a bunch of stuff and being stressed out of your mind at Target, consider crafting. Crafting is a great thing to do, so anyway. I will leave my ranting on that. So where can people find you or the work that you’re doing, and especially for the naturopathic profession out there, if they want to get involved or just being kept up to date?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Sure, so the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges is found online at aanmc.org and on social media, and we also are now offering the residency match process for the naturopathic medical community, so if you’re interested in becoming a resident or hosting a resident, we’ll have a lot of information about that on our website, as well. So those are the types of things that you can find on our website. We also love connecting folks with the schools and the members as well as what’s happening at the schools, so you can sign up for our newsletter on our website, too.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Awesome. And is there a student association or a way for students to learn more? I didn’t even know about you guys until I was out of school, which is atrocious. No one ever mentioned that there was an overseeing body of the schools, which would’ve been really helpful to know, being as what I was going through. So is there, I’m just asking, sometimes there’s student-
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Yeah.
Dr. Tyna Moore: … associations or ways for students to get involved.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Awesome. Super good to know, because I think that’s where it starts. I think having a, students always have so much good, invigorated energy, and we get a little beaten down when we start practice because we realize there’s so much more to it, so it’s nice to be enlightened as a student. Well, Dr. Yánez, thank you so much for all of these tips and tricks that we’ve covered. I think the audience will really enjoy them. I hope that everybody enjoys their holiday season, and it is filled with peace and joy and gratitude, and not stress. Thank you.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Amen.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Awesome. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Take care.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Okay.
Dr. JoAnn Yánez: Thanks for having me.
Dr. Tyna Moore: Yeah, awesome. Thank you.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Pain Free & Strong Radio with Dr. Tyna Moore. Dr. Tyna offers a wide range of online courses for both physicians and to the public. To learn more or to work with her as a patient, visit her online at www.drtyna.com.
Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor
Click below to receive information from the seven accredited naturopathic medical schools across eight North American campuses!
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, family, giving, and compassion…but unfortunately, it’s all too easy to let stress take control during this incredibly busy time of year
According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, more than eight out of ten people anticipate a stressful holiday season. Whether you’re fretting about your gift list, entertaining guests, or travel plans, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress levels so you can have a healthy and happy holiday.
“Don’t let stress solutions stress you out,” says Dr. JoAnn Yanez, the executive director of the AANMC. “Find fixes that are easy to implement, leave you recharged, and lighten your load.”
Naturopathic medicine can help individuals prevent and manage stress and improve overall wellbeing.
Stress occurs when an event triggers a stress response, which is often referred to as the fight or flight response. There are many ways that the body will try to bring itself back into balance, and different people respond differently to the same stress stimuli.
Stressors can be anything from work, finances, relationships, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of nutrients, and exposure to environmental toxins.
“As a certified mindfulness practitioner, I stress (no pun intended) the undeniable relationship between our emotional and mental health and that of our entire being,” Dr. Jennifer Botwick, clinical adjunct faculty at the University of Bridgeport, says.
“The relationship between diet, physical activity and stress is a deeply interconnected cycle. When we are stressed, most people tend to crave and indulge in more quick fixes. Most people can recognize this, but not break the cycle,” Dr. Lindsay Chimileski, from the University of Bridgeport, explains.
Diet and nutrition play a large role in the body’s stress levels.
“Stress often leads people to reach for the most convenient food, one that normally does not have much nutritional value (which is in and of itself a stressor). This just makes things worse, as the body needs good nutrition to balance the effects of the stress response,” Dr. Emma Norton, an assistant professor at Bastyr University, says.
“Without good nutrition and in the presence of chronic stress, the body is destined for a variety of stress related problems.”
“Stressful times are more physiologically demanding, so you need more nutrients (vitamins and minerals) during this time. You can’t always avoid the situations that your body will perceive as stressful. You can, however, provide the body with proper nutrition through dietary choices that will enable the body to balance the nervous system faster and with less anxiety or responsiveness,” she explains.
“You need more protein, more healthy fats, more B vitamins, more vitamin C, and more magnesium. The focus of the diet should be a whole food plant based diet, not necessarily vegetarian, but containing most of the calories from plant sources, because they are the highest in the micronutrients we so desperately need when we are stressed,” Dr. Norton says.
Dr. Chimileski adds, “Eating in a rush is one of the most important, almost silly, self-imposed health issues of our time. Everyone’s digestion is compromised because they cannot find the time in the day to sit down and chew their food; let alone shop, prep, and cook good meals. It physically stunts our digestion.”
Exercise and physical activity are also linked to stress levels.
“When you exercise, your body makes chemicals called endorphins, which act as your body’s natural opiates, making you feel good, thus counteracting the stress and anxiety that people feel when under stress,” Dr. Norton says.
“Lack of exercise and “play” time can contribute to stress because for most people exercise and fun activities can diffuse stress.”
“Physical activity helps to bring us out of our heads and into our bodies,” Dr. Chimileski says. “Instead of the constant rolling mental to-do list. It also trains our minds and bodies to work through stressful situations.”
Of course, mental habits contribute significantly to stress levels.
“Mental habits like overthinking or thinking that there is nothing you can do to change the problem can really make a stressful situation much worse,” Dr. Norton explains.
“Self-sabotaging, overcommitting and having unrealistic expectations are also major contributors to stress, which are within our control,” Dr. Chimileski adds. “By being loving and kind with ourselves and making the time for self-care, we enter into all activities of the day in a better mindset and more able to deal with whatever curve balls are thrown at us.”
“Overcommitting and self-shaming for only finishing 99 of the 100 things on the to do list is so unnecessary. There are many sources out there on the power of saying no and not agreeing to do things that you either can’t or don’t want to do. You can take control of your day this way,” she says.
These naturopathic doctors shared their tried and tested tips to prevent and manage stress.
Approaches to managing stress vary greatly, but they all are rooted in the naturopathic principle of treating the cause.
According to Dr. Norton, approaches can include: “lifestyle education on proper whole food nutrition, encouraging adequate rest and exercise, testing for and treating nutritional deficiencies, testing for and correcting hormonal imbalances, mind body techniques to promote a positive mental attitude and increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, botanical and nutritional supplementation to support the nervous system and adrenal glands, constitutional homeopathy that focuses on treating the whole person, hydrotherapy techniques aimed at promoting relaxation and increasing parasympathetic tone and physical medicine techniques that encourage proper spinal alignment and muscle tone.”
Dr. Norton recommends the following preventive stress tips:
Get enough sleep and relaxation time
Spend time around the people that support you and bring you joy
Seek out places that make you feel grounded and in control
Use simple techniques like diaphragmatic breathing to calm the mind and allow for a positive mental attitude
Dr. Emma Norton
“Find something in your day to bring you out of your head,” Dr. Chimileski says. “This can be something big or small – a yoga pose between clients, squats before the shower, prepping a lovely meal, going for a walk outside, doing or seeing some art, laughing, loving.”
Dr. Chimileski recommends physical, herbal, and mental techniques:
Fun physical activity that uses multiple parts of the brain: yoga, qi gong, dancing, hiking
Acupuncture to balance the body
Herbs used in daily life to bring individuals to the present moment: adaptogen herbs to strengthen and balance stress response, herbal nervines and teas to wake up senses, improve digestion, and calm nerves
Chew your food thoroughly before swallowing
Mindfulness, meditation, and grounding exercises like positive affirmations and mantras
Making time for art
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Say no to requests that are not going to be beneficial to your health or stress level
Journal three things that made you happy each day
Use an app that promotes mindfulness, encourages stretch breaks, or sends positive reminders
Set goals that are achievable and simple, and celebrate small successes
Dr. Botwick recommends self-care:
Remember to breathe
Cultivate self love
She also relies on whole foods, anti-inflammatory foods, regular physical and mental health exercises, cranio-sacral therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and reiki.
Dr. Jennifer Botwick
This season and all year long, naturopathic doctors work with individuals to prevent and manage stress in order to help them live happy and healthy lives.
Interested in a career that combines stress management and naturopathic medicine?
Getting free information from our accredited campuses across North America is your first step toward a new and exciting career.